You’ve probably seen this video floating around for a few days now. I strongly recommend you to watch it first before you keep on reading.
If you’re as dead inside as I am or in the vicinity or neighborhood of Black Heart Hills, you might be saying to yourself “Well, yeah, he’s funny, but the video is edited to be pandering for people to feel more sympathetic towards him, making it even seem him to be even funnier. It’s exploiting the fact that he’s disabled to get a cheer from everyone.” And you might possibly be close to right, in the sense that yes, this is edited for TV and for entertainment purposes.
But let’s go beyond that. Let’s see past the marketable product they aired on the show.
Jack here addresses one of the major points of comedy: taking people to dark places where they feel uncomfortable and tell them “it’s okay, I’m here as well. Sit down, relax. Let me bring you something to drink.” Just as he says, his disability is his advantage. He’s telling people “I don’t care, so why should you? This doesn’t define me as a person, but my work and attitude towards it does“.
Louis C.K. addressed this as well in his speech when honoring George Carlin. He had an act with just observational humor of trivial things*, but when he started to dig deeper within himself and started to talk about the things he was afraid to say, and then make fun of them, he took the audience with him and they responded in a positive way. So much he’s considered one of the best comedians of all time.
*Not that just observational humor is bad. Jerry Seinfeld is a good example of doing it perfectly.
I do a lot of self-deprecating humor (either in my work, online or just talking to friends), and I’ve encountered a lot of times people telling me either that I shouldn’t be making fun of myself, that people are laughing at me and not with me, or that I have a low self-esteem. I know they mean well, but those arguments are wrong. For starters, when you make fun of yourself, you mostly head off at the pass anyone who wants to mock you, because you’re already there. Secondly, when intentionally doing this kind of humor, you’ve already dug this deep and laughed at yourself, so you’re in fact laughing with them. And finally, at least in my case, I can’t process the notion of having low self-esteem and doing self-deprecating humor.
And that’s the keyword here, folks: Humor. It’ll take you to an uncomfortable place and make you laugh at the fact that it isn’t that big of a deal. It will bring you a new perspective about things you thought were untouchable or too sacred/taboo/sensitive to talk about. And I think that’s where the root of comedy comes from. From the unexpected. And what can be more unexpected that the things you are scared of?
To quote George Carlin “I believe you can joke about anything. It all depends on how you construct the joke. What the exaggeration is.” And I think that’s what Jack here constructed perfectly. He hit everyone in the face with that first statement. He said it himself, he pointed out the elephant in the room first, so everybody could concentrate on the funny jokes then.
I want to see more of Jack Carroll. I hope he takes advantage of this exposure and becomes a great comedian, because he is actually funny.
Mario A. ~ (The “A” is for “Awkward”)
PS: I have a list of great stand-up routines in my Youtube Channel (linked HERE) if you want to see (and laugh) more examples of going to dark palces and digging deeper into your own mind.